Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam made landfall in Vanuatu and the capital island of Efate on March 13. The capital city of Port Vila suffered a direct hit by the storm, which was the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, with sustained wind speeds of 165 mph and gusts nearing 200 mph. International Medical Corps has mobilized and deployed our Emergency Response Team to Vanuatu to assess the situation and find ways in which we can help best families and communities affected by this crisis.
Cyclone Pam is the strongest storm to make landfall since Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013. The full force of Pam was dramatically worse than the predictions, and the humanitarian impact is expected to be high. Initial reports indicate that up to 90% of buildings in Port Vila were affected by the storm, and the cyclone destroyed all mobile towers except one in Port Vila, resulting in the complete lack of communication across most of the archipelago nation. Port Vila is reported to be without power or running water, with debris covering the streets.
There is limited available information on the needs of other affected communities. Humanitarian agencies on the ground are reporting that houses are destroyed, trees are down, roads are blocked and people are looking for help. The President of Vanuatu has identified food, water and shelter as immediate priorities. Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office had confirmed eight dead and 20 injured, and these figures are expected to rise substantially in the days to come.